Judy Dyble and Andy Lewis at Union Chapel, London - live review

Dyble and Lewis team up for lunchtime concert at one of London's most inspiring venues

live shot
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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It’s cold and grey and everyone’s skint and/or ill. Welcome to January, the worst month for live music anywhere in the UK, even in the bustling capital.

But what’s this? Free (ish) music? On a Saturday lunchtime? In a warm, accessible venue, with tea and biscuits? Daylight Music is almost a gift from God.

For several years, the promoters at the Union Chapel have put on autumn and winter seasons of pay-what-you-like gigs. This week it’s a triple bill headlined by Judy Dyble’s new project with producer-bassist-DJ Andy Lewis. Bridging a 20-year age gap, their 2017 debut album Summer Dancing united the two in attitude, intellect and psychedelic experimentation, Dyble’s archive of unfinished lyrics paired with Lewis’ multi-layered arrangements.

The ‘band’ – Papernut Cambridge men Robert Rotifer and Ian Button on acoustic guitar and drums, viola player/backing singer Alison Cotton from The Left Outsides, guitarist/keyboardist Pete Twyman and Lewis’ wife Liz on samples and autoharp – have done just three shows in five months. Rehearsals have been minimal, but hey, they’re professionals, and from the casting of A Net Of Memories (London) – Petula Clark’s Downtown spiralised by a dreamy melancholy and tinkling folk song – we know we’re gonna be okay.

More than okay. Most who’ve seen Dyble before know she can be a nervous performer, often clinging to her lyric book for comfort. The book’s out, on a music stand, but the venue so suits Dyble’s cut-glass vocal – she’s clearly enjoying the songs and the company – that it’s the band that come over a little tense, careful to not overshadow their star player or blast a bum note.

Lewis does a great job of plucking Herbie Flowers-like bass lines and adding occasional throatiness (A Message’s heartsore ‘Darlin’ I miss ya’), while gently supervising the ensemble. There’s a Trader Horne cover, Velvet To Atone, and a new song, a cover of Nick Drake’s Northern Sky.

As clap-a-long knees-up The Day They Took The Music Away abruptly ends, it appears that Dyble – now 69, and lately in the UK album chart with Big Big Train – might be on the form of her life.

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.